» Living Will Forms (Advance Directives)

Living Will Forms (Advance Directives)

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A Living Will, also known as an “Advance Directive” which can also be combined with a medical power of attorney to further strengthen a person’s medical wishes, allows a person to state their end-of-life medical treatment and care. This document does not hold any bearings after death, it solely directs physicians to care for a person based on what is stated in their Living Will, especially with issues such as DNR (do not resuscitate). Without this document, it’s difficult to judge an ill or incapacitated person’s end-of-life wishes.

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What is a Living Will?

A Living Will is a document used to describe how medical decisions should be made when certain health related issues arise, especially when a person is dealing with a life-threatening condition. For example, should a person remain on life support if they have fallen into an irreversible vegetative state? That question can easily be answered by having a Living Will, as it will clearly state whether or not that person wishes to resume on life support in that situation.

Although most commonly related with the elderly, anyone over the age of 18 should have a Living Will, as unfortunate occurrences can happen to anybody. When a person falls seriously ill without a Living Will, painful arguments can arise amongst family and loved ones when deciding on an outcome.

A Living Will should address these 3 topics, as they are the most common and difficult issues that arise during a person’s life-ending condition:

  • Life Support
  • Life-Sustaining Treatment
  • End of Life Wishes

Making a Living Will

Preparing a Living Will does not require an expensive lawyer nor does it take much time to fill out. Figuring out your end-of-life wishes is the hard part and once you have come to a conclusion, all you need to do is complete a Living Will which only takes a few minutes. Once complete and printed, make sure your document is in good standing as many states require a living will to be notarized and signed by a witness in order to be valid.

Make a Living Will if the following relate to your situation:

  • Develop a serious illness, such as terminal cancer;
  • Just had your 18th birthday;
  • Undergoing surgery;
  • Need to communicate end-of-life wishes to your agent and/or physician.

Securing an Agent

An agent is someone who carries out the wishes stated in your Living Will or Power of Attorney. A good candidate for an agent could be a family member or a close friend. A daughter or son for example would be a good choice, as they are expected to outlive your life. An agent can not be your physician or anyone that directly administers health care to you. As your agent, this person must follow the instructions set out in your document and can also make judgement decisions when uncertain situations arise.

After completion of your Living Will, copies should be delivered to your agent, physician and anyone directly involved with your estate plan. Make sure to update your Living Will if your agent changes or becomes unavailable to serve.

An agent can also be referred to as the following:

  • Attorney-in-Fact
  • Health Care Proxy
  • Surrogate

Do I need a Power of Attorney?

Both a Medical Power of Attorney and a Living Will act in the same way in that both cater towards a person’s medical wishes. A Living Will specifically handles end-of-life health care situations whereas a medical power of attorney covers a broad range of health care decisions and only goes into effect when a person becomes incapacitated (unable to think for themselves).

If you desire to have more control over your medical treatment in the event you are unable to make them for yourself, you will need to create a medical power of attorney. Just like a Living Will, you will need to select an agent who will behold your medical wishes and makes certain that those wishes are carried out successfully. Completing both a living will and a medical power of attorney form are recommended.

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